Going local at the food halls

The first evening when I arrived in Tokyo was a week night. Being the lazy me and still having a mind focused on keeping to my eating habits as much as I can, even though I am on vacation and should really let loose, I thought of checking out the supermarkets, to grab some fruits and yogurt, which are almost my daily staple these days. It just feels weird when I don’t have either, or have them in insufficient quantities.

Since Takashimaya was conveniently located within minutes away from the hotel, I popped over to the supermarket and food hall in its basement, and was ensnared in the evening peak of Japanese grabbing last minute dinners from the stalls. Most items were going at a discounted price, though not that significant but at least they became a little more affordable. Much as these are just takeaways in small portions, upon conversion back to SGD, even with the strong exchange rate now, it was still pretty mind-boggling. I can’t imagine spending this kind of money on dinner on a daily basis if I were living in Tokyo. Perhaps that explains the myriad of convenience stores and their convenient packed meals, or those “vending-machine” food outlets that dot the streets of Tokyo.

I bought 2 small portions of cooked pumpkin and a medley of broccoli, cucumber and french beans, things I didn’t used to appreciate too much, especially the variety, until the recent years. I have missed out so much but it’s never too late to start!  I also wanted to have some fruits in my system so I picked up this box of cut-fruit salad from the conbini (local abbreviation/slang for convenience store). It contains some pieces of kiwi, pineapples and grapefruit, and costs roughly about S$3.50! O_O But this is still cheaper as compared to the veggies above.Of course, what is a visit to a supermarket in Japan without picking up some strawberries!? These also do not come cheap but so far from experience, strawberries that I have bought in Japan are always sweet, not to mention that they are all of about the same size, with very vibrant colours and not in some odd deformed shape like some US-variants tend to be. These 2 boxes cost about S$7 each, which is actually not too bad, considering that in Singapore the same box could sometimes cost twice that, unless they are not from Japan. And they really do not disappoint. I could really just eat them strawberries everyday!One thing I feel doesn’t quite make the cut would be the yogurt. Even though we all know Hokkaido milk is probably one of the tastiest milk I ever had, their yogurt do not seem to match up to the European/Australian versions that I have had. Perhaps I haven’t tried enough Japanese yogurt to make a valid comment, and Soy Yogurt is a totally different ball game altogether, but the bigger tub pictured below felt a tad too watery, when I prefer my yogurts to be creamier and thicker. I love Greek yogurt too, which isn’t creamy unless it’s the Greek-style type, but then when I have Greek yogurt, my expectation isn’t that it is creamy so somehow I manage with that quite well. Hmm.  And this is the view that I got out of my window. Not a very pretty sight compared to what I have seen from hotel room windows of other places I have stayed at in Tokyo but I don’t need to sit by the window the whole day looking out at the city when I can just go out and be in the city. I love vacationing in Tokyo, and this was a good trip, despite some kinks that occurred before it finally materialised.  

Jamie’s Italian, Singapore

After what seemed like forever, we finally got to check out Jamie’s Italian at Vivocity. Well we never made it there because we were daunted by the queues, and I am truly averse to queueing for food. Well, not always, but generally. I would rather settle for something that is just decent or passable than to spend time queueing for something that is supposedly good. Food, is at the end of the day, just food.

The other time I tried Jamie’s Italian was somewhere in the UK, not in London but Reading I think. The food, from what I recalled, was pretty decent but I wouldn’t say exceptional. Maybe I don’t know what is considered to be really good Italian food but to me, pasta is pasta. There is bad pasta, for sure, but how good it can be, I guess I don’t have a yardstick for comparison.IMG_0007.JPGSo this time we finally made it to the outlet at Vivocity, not without waiting for queueing though, even if there was not really a visible queue in sight. They will make you leave your name with the host who will then let you know an approximate time you will need to wait. I figured it wasn’t due to the restaurant reaching its maximum capacity because as we loitered in the vicinity we could see that there were quite a number of empty tables. But it was probably more to ensure that guests who are seated are more or less promptly attended to and served. It can be good or bad in a way, good in that you can turn around tables much faster but bad because you make the customers wait while standing outside the restaurant. Unless of course you want to shop around and hope they remember to give you a tinker.

Well service was indeed prompt. We already knew what we wanted since we had a fair bit of time before being shown to our table, not in the best location though, as it was a 2-seater in the midst of thoroughfare. We decided not to be ambitious and chose several small portions of sides. This is the roast potatoes dish with fennel, garlic and chilli, which I love of course, what do you expect, this is an entire dish of potatoes!

IMG_0009.JPGThen we had a main too, which was the pumpkin tortellini, filled with roasted squash, ricotta and parmesan, in a pumpkin, chilli and rosemary butter with smashes amaretti. We ordered a half portion, thinking that with 2 sides it may get too much, but if you take a look at this, you will see that there are just about 8 small pieces of tortellinis to be shared among the 2 of us. We are not big eaters, so I can imagine that those who have a hearty appetite may need to order more stuff in order to be truly full.

IMG_0010.JPGOne of the other sides, the cauliflower and parmesan fritters with arrabiatta dip. As much as I enjoyed this dish, it was a little miserable in terms of size.

IMG_0008.JPGTada, the “spread” that we had.

IMG_0011.JPGI was nicely satiated but I wouldn’t say I was full, but I could be from the bottle of lemonade that we ordered for sharing. So since we still had room, we decided to have dessert as well, also because we were celebrating my birthday! Haha, shameless I know, but what is a birthday without a cake? So we ordered the Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue. To be honest, I am not a fan of meringues, knowing how sweet they can be, despite that I am a cake-lover these days. Which come to think of it, I really do ought to cut down on. Sigh. Anyway, this was a huge serving, in contrast to the conservative amounts of the mains and sides. I liked the base that was made from limoncello and crunchy pistachio brittle, as it had a zesty and refreshing flavour to it!

IMG_0012.JPGOn the whole, this was a good dinner with nice food and desserts, coupled with of course great company! The service was polite and professional but it somehow lacks a touch of warmth which I would have preferred.

just can’t stop eating

Perhaps due to the need to always be constantly engaged in activities of some form, I realised that wherenever I am not doing something, for instance, sitting in front of the television idling time away and not exactly paying attention to what is being shown, I would feel peckish. It’s probably some kind of condition, and that I need to find better ways to engage my brain usefully and productively, like ead something, yet I just feel lazy to read even though I really want to go through the daily papers or the books that I had bought years ago.

I don’t think that the need or the desire to want to eat frequently stems from the amount that I eat because sometimes I do think the portion is pretty sizeable already and the feeling of wanting to eat isn’t due to hunger, unless I am not noticing the hunger pangs that are in some other ways transmitted to my brain to trigger the desire.

Anyway, I decided to snap a shot of what I had for breakfast some days ago, the very first meal of the day and which is also the first half of my breakfast, yogurt with fruit and chia seeds. You can’t see the fruit that has been completely covered by the yogurt but in this picture, a green kiwi lies beneath. A little of the green is visible in the right edges. Anyhow, kiwi is my usual choice of fruit to go along with yogurt because the combination of sour on sour is so refreshing and I really enjoy the sourness. Most other days I substitute bananas for kiwis though, because of the greater satiation from bananas and because I also love eating bananas. The dried apricot is a treat for that day, just to add some colour and cheer for the morning!  20131007-090439.jpg

I said this was the first half because I eat fairly early in the mornings, and this definitely doesn’t last me all the way through to lunch time. Also, I don’t generally want to or like having my meal at one sitting; because circumstances permit, I prefer to space out my eating, which is also possibly the reason for the development of the habit to eat frequently, or rather all the time. My second half of breakfast happens around some people’s usual breakfast time, or maybe tea-break, and consists of something more substantial in the form of carbs and coffee. I love my carbs, despite how it is not so well-received by many because it can be a huge contributory factor to weight gain!

I happened to take a photo of something I asked my mum to steam for one of my night snack last week. It doesn’t look that fantastic, and obviously it goes to show how I am not the go-to person for plating or well-thought-up/orchestrated food arrangements. Whatever that is called. I just take and eat. Perhaps if I put some effort into dressing up the food that I am eating, it can extend my enjoyment further, both in the satisfaction from eating, and literally the time taken to consume the food.20131007-090522.jpg

This is pumpkin, and I have come to appreciate it and love it! Whether it is its taste or texture, steamed, grilled, roasted or stewed, I think it tastes wonderful. The ones that I have bought so far are always the ones with dark green skin, but I have seen some with orangey/yellow skin called squash, possibly another variant of this thing that I used to only associate with Jack-o-lanterns and Halloween. One of these days, I have to get some butternut squash to try and see if I like them as much as the green pumpkins!

Skinny Pizza, Plaza Singapura

Was just talking about Skinny Pizza last week, and here I went to have dinner at Skinny Pizza at Plaza Singapura’s new wing last weekend! But I didn’t have any pizzas though…

Call me a noob or a mountain tortoise, but it is the first time I’m stepping foot into Plaza Singapura after its extension and as I transited from the old wing to the new wing, it was evident the stark contrast between the two. The old wing, as I entered from the basement by way of the MRT station, felt like a heartland mall and not a mall that belonged in town. Even as we progressed up the levels there was hardly a change in how I felt. The new wing was slightly better, but it still didn’t exude that downtown mall kind of experience, and my friend commented that this is typical of Capital Malls’ shopping centres. Really? I didn’t really notice who the developer is when I am in a mall.

Nevertheless, it’s great that PS now offers more options, and the Starbucks that is now at the new wing looks nice and open but as usual it was fully-occupied. The F&B outlets on the other levels above were not reflecting the same picture though, except perhaps Hoshino, where a short queue outside deterred us from checking it out. And as expected, Tin Ho Wan on the ground floor had a long queue outside, reminiscent of the Mong Kok branch I visited last year. The difference was that this queue was in an air-conditioned mall and it seemed more orderly, but still I don’t think I will ever queue that long again for their dim sum. It is good but not to that extent of hour-long queues, and my friend said this outlet’s food was horrible, which was strange because the reviews I read online about the food were generally good, although many of them were reviews based on the media preview, which of course will mean food would have been prepared to the highest of standards or at least quality-checked by the main chef in-charge.

So anyway, this isn’t about Tin Ho Wan. It is about Skinny Pizza, without their famous skinny pizzas. Haha, I didn’t want to order it because it would have been too much for me alone, even if it is so thin, and my friend doesn’t like pizzas that thin. She prefers Pizza Hut pizzas *gasp*. How can anyone like those??

So I ordered a soup for starters. The Red Pepper and Tomato soup, which was very refreshing to the palate with the slight tanginess from the pepper and a little sour flavour from the tomato.

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My friend ordered the Sweet Corn Crab, which should be not bad because she finished everything and didn’t comment otherwise.

As I wasn’t having pizza and wasn’t in the mood for pastas, I ordered a salad, and from the options it was pretty clear that my choice would be the Macadamia Crusted Pumpkin Salad!  

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I was honestly a little taken aback by its generous portion of two large slices of pumpkin, topped with some macadamia and arugula (I think these are arugula), sun-dried tomato and drizzled with a sauce. I don’t know what sauce that is but it wasn’t too bad. I actually cleaned off the entire plate, which left me very full and satisfied so if you are a pumpkin lover, this is the dish for you!

My friend ordered a pasta, the Bay Prawn Cappellini, and requested for it to be less spicy. When it came, yes the serving was also ginormous and she probably only took less than half of it. But her verdict on it was that with the request, the dish was completely tasteless; she then asked for salt and drowned her pasta with salt. Maybe that was also the reason why she didn’t finish it eventually, although she mentioned it tasted at least a little better with the salt added. I thought it looked pretty good, the cappellini, but unfortunately, perhaps without chilli it really is tasteless.

So maybe the next time I return to Skinny Pizza, I’ll pass on their pastas, and either find someone who will share the pizza with me, or order the pumpkin salad again! 🙂